Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Space in Mind

Space in Mind: Concepts for Spatial Learning and Education

Daniel R. Montello
Karl Grossner
Donald G. Janelle
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 352
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Space in Mind
    Book Description:

    The current "spatial turn" in many disciplines reflects an emerging scholarly interest in space and spatiality as central components in understanding the natural and cultural worlds. InSpace in Mind, leading researchers from a range of disciplines examine the implications of research on spatial thinking and reasoning for education and learning. Their contributions suggest ways in which recent work in such fields as spatial cognition, geographic information systems, linguistics, artificial intelligence, architecture, and data visualization can inform spatial approaches to learning and education.After addressing the conceptual foundations of spatial thinking for education and learning, the book considers visualization, both external (for example, diagrams and maps) and internal (imagery and other mental spatial representations); embodied cognition and spatial understanding; and the development of specific spatial curricula and literacies.ContributorsKinnari Atit, John Bateman, Ruth Conroy Dalton, Ghislain Deslongchamps, Bonnie Dixon, Roger M. Downs, Daniel R. Montello, Christian Freksa, Michael F. Goodchild, Karl Grossner, Mary Hegarty, Scott R. Hinze, Christoph Hölscher, Alycia M. Hund, Donald G. Janelle, Sander Lestrade, Evie Malaia, Nora S. Newcombe, David N. Rapp, Thomas F. Shipley, Holger Schultheis, Mary Jane Shultz, Diana Sinton, Mike Stieff, Thora Tenbrink, Basil Tikoff, Dido Tsigaridi, David Waller, Ranxiao Frances Wang, Ronnie Wilbur, Kenneth C. Williamson, Vickie M. Williamson

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32173-0
    Subjects: Psychology, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Daniel R. Montello, Karl Grossner and Donald G. Janelle
  4. I Introduction and Conceptual Foundations

    • 1 Concepts for Spatial Learning and Education: An Introduction
      (pp. 3-30)
      Daniel R. Montello, Karl Grossner and Donald G. Janelle

      This book discusses concepts and conceptualization relevant to the emerging field of spatial learning and education. Spatial learning and education is learning and education about (and with) space and spatiality, both informally and in formal educational settings, such as those involving classrooms, textbooks, or workbooks for K–16 education (that is, from kindergarten to a bachelor’s degree). The three of us share a professional interest in space and spatiality as central components in understanding the natural and cultural worlds, as well as the abstract or metaphorical worlds of art, literature, and mathematics. Furthermore, we believe that promoting spatial thinking in...

    • 2 Three Ways of Using Space
      (pp. 31-48)
      Christian Freksa and Holger Schultheis

      Spatial structure is omnipresent in the physical world. This is true for the internal structure of physical objects, for their external relations to one another, for their relation to their environment, and for their relation to an observer inside or outside this environment. Spatial structure also is omnipresent in perception systems across a large variety of modalities, in biological memories, and in the motor mechanisms that cognitive agents and artifacts use for locomotion and for other types of motion, including motion of perceptual organs and motion of information-carrying signals inside and outside the cognitive agents. When motion or other forms...

    • 3 The Linguistic Ontology of Space: General Methods and the Role of Comparative Linguistic Evidence
      (pp. 49-72)
      John Bateman and Sander Lestrade

      Problems involving spatial reasoning, spatial perception, and spatial representation are present in almost all human activities. Spatial skills and intelligence in general appear to be closely related and “spatial thinking” as such is increasingly considered an important enabler for many of the skills that are essential for life today. Spatial skills are not only evident as cognitive processes, however. Whenever spatial problems are addressed as cooperative tasks, drawing on the knowledge, abilities, or even position(s) of different parties, it becomes necessary to add into this complex of issues considerations ofspatial language. This has been approached in several ways, broadly...

  5. II Visualization in Spatial Learning and Education

    • 4 Reasoning with Diagrams: Toward a Broad Ontology of Spatial Thinking Strategies
      (pp. 75-98)
      Mary Hegarty, Mike Stieff and Bonnie Dixon

      Recently there has been much interest in the importance of spatial thinking, especially in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, and in fostering this type of thinking in our educational system. But what is spatial thinking? For many psychologists this question brings to mind classic tasks such as mental rotation (Shepard and Metzler 1971), scanning (Kosslyn, Ball, and Reiser 1978), and paper folding (Shepard and Feng 1972). These tasks are theoretically important in providing evidence that spatial inferences can be made by analog mental simulations that operate on mental images. Some of these tasks have also been adapted by...

    • 5 Spatial Ability and Learning from Visualizations in STEM Disciplines
      (pp. 99-118)
      Scott R. Hinze, Vickie M. Williamson, Mary Jane Shultz, Ghislain Deslongchamps, Kenneth C. Williamson and David N. Rapp

      Students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses are often exposed to pictures, animations, and displays that are intended to convey complex concepts and interactions. These types of presentations have been termed visualizations, which embodies the idea they are external representations that convey information in an interpretable form. In many cases, well-designed visualizations help make visible the kinds of processes and relationships that normally are unobservable to the naked eye. Much of the content of STEM coursework proves inaccessible in this way, either because the critical elements under study are so microscopic or temporally expanded that seeing them is...

    • 6 Can Humans Form Four-Dimensional Spatial Representations?
      (pp. 119-136)
      Ranxiao Frances Wang

      Representations of space and time are deeply rooted in human thinking, reasoning, and perception of the world. Being one of the most concrete, well-experienced, and intuitive domains, spatial analogies are widely used to explain and comprehend more abstract, complex, and difficult non spatial concepts, such as number, category, strategy set, and so on. Nearly all areas of science and engineering use spatial thinking as a tool for their theoretical and application development. For example, when plotting one variable (such as temperature) as a function of another (such as season) in a two-dimensional graph, the two non-spatial variables are each mapped...

  6. III Spatial Thinking and the Body

    • 7 Embodiment as a Framework for Understanding Environmental Cognition
      (pp. 139-158)
      David Waller

      The study of environmental cognition focuses on the relationship between the patterns and structures in the physical world and the mental patterns and structures that cause and are caused by them. Questions as to what information about the external environment is sensed, how that information is transduced and stored, and how it influences behavior have dominated empirical and theoretical approaches to this topic for many decades. In this chapter, I will sketch how cognitive science has begun to address these questions from an emerging perspective generally known asembodiedorgroundedcognition. Embodied cognition is often considered a recent reaction...

    • 8 Enhancement of Spatial Processing in Sign-Language Users
      (pp. 159-172)
      Evie Malaia and Ronnie B. Wilbur

      Discussion of human use and conceptualization of space is incomplete without understanding the spatial abilities of a large group of people whose primary medium of communication is visuospatial—users of sign language. Multiple studies indicate that users of sign language are better than non signers at processing and manipulating spatial information (Colmenero et al. 2004; Spring ford 2006), owing to experience with the inherently present spatial component in signed languages. In this chapter, we provide a summary of what is currently known about space use, processing, and conceptualization by signers. In the first section, we explain how the use of...

    • 9 What Do a Geologist’s Hands Tell You? A Framework for Classifying Spatial Gestures in Science Education
      (pp. 173-194)
      Kinnari Atit, Thomas F. Shipley and Basil Tikoff

      Geology is an intensively spatial discipline, and spatial gestures are widely used by geologists for communication. In this chapter we attempt to summarize progress made by a group of cognitive psychologists and geologists working together to understand how spatial relations are communicated in the context of the geological sciences. We propose a framework, based on the work of Chatterjee (2008), that captures well how geologists use and convey spatial information by gesturing.

      Before we begin our formal discussion of spatial gestures, let us use a brief narrative to illustrate how spatial gestures are employed in geoscience education:

      A geologist and...

    • 10 Using Spatial Strategies to Facilitate Skillful Wayfinding and Spatial Problem Solving: Implications for Education
      (pp. 195-216)
      Alycia M. Hund

      Thinking spatially is important for everyday functioning. For example, children and adults rely on spatial skills to create and interpret charts and graphs, to understand details portrayed in diagrams and maps, to solve complex mathematics and scientific problems, and to find their way from place to place. Researchers have used a variety of taxonomies to explain spatial thinking, describing performance depending on spatial scales (Hegarty et al. 2006), spatial domains (i.e., perception, visualization, mental rotation; Linn and Petersen 1985), and spatial strategies (Taylor and Tversky 1996). This chapter focuses on spatial strategies, or perspectives, and their consequences for skillful wayfinding...

  7. IV Spatial Thinking and Education

    • 11 Spatial Learning in Higher Education
      (pp. 219-238)
      Diana S. Sinton

      Learning that is based on spatial approaches, spatial constructs, and spatial principles takes place in many arenas of higher education. (See the chapter by Grossner and Janelle in this volume.) Anyone studying engineering, art, physics, geography, computer science, planning, or geology regularly uses spatial understanding to reason through the discipline’s topics or ideas. One may study where a phenomenon or an object is located, figure out how it fits or is placed relative to other objects, measure or study its movement over time, or model the effects of its changes on other phenomena or objects. However, the role of space...

    • 12 Concepts and Principles for Spatial Literacy
      (pp. 239-262)
      Karl Grossner and Donald G. Janelle

      Spatial thinking capability is strongly correlated with educational and professional performance in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields (Shea, Lubinski, and Benbow 2001; Uttal and Cohen 2012; Wai, Lubinski, and Benbow 2009; Webb, Lubinski, and Benbow 2007), but the systematic and integrative instruction of spatial concepts, principles, and reasoning skills is not an explicit goal in K–12 or college curricula. Spatiality also is ubiquitous in many humanities fields, including history and fine arts. Although educators do set standards for verbal literacy, numeracy, and analytical reasoning, there has been no comparable articulation of what it means to be spatially...

    • 13 Cognition and Communication in Architectural Design
      (pp. 263-280)
      Thora Tenbrink, Christoph Hölscher, Dido Tsigaridi and Ruth Conroy Dalton

      What, do you think, is a corner, and what might it be important for? Your answer will depend on who you are and what is relevant for you in a given discourse context. Even in the restricted context of buildings, corners can be associated with multiple concepts. Perceived from the outside, corners are typically convex and define the overall form of a building. From the inside, they are often concave, and represent semi-enclosed spaces formed by intersecting wall-planes. In each case, different levels of function and perception are revealed.

      As such, convexity and concavity establish the status of a phenomenon’s...

    • 14 Exploring the Nature and Development of Expertise in Geography
      (pp. 281-310)
      Roger M. Downs

      Experts abound in areas from the familiar and quotidian to the recondite and unusual; the advice of experts is sought, if not always followed. Experts are targets of humor, admiration, and disdain. Owing to the characterization of experts as people who know more and more about less and less, there is ambivalence in popular reactions.

      Reactions from academics are equally mixed. Niels Bohr saw an expert as “a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that one can make in a very narrow field” (Coughlan 1954, p. 62). Werner Heisenberg offered a positive gloss:...

  8. V Epilogue

    • 15 Learning to Live with Spatial Technologies
      (pp. 313-322)
      Michael F. Goodchild

      The reportLearning to Think Spatially(National Research Council 2006), which is cited in many of the chapters in this book, has as its subtitleGIS as a Support System in the K–12 Curriculum. My own interests in spatial thinking are similarly grounded in GIS (geographic information systems; my use of the term in what follows encompasses all technologies that manipulate geographic information, which I define as geographically referenced information about the surface and near-surface of the Earth), and in almost 40 years of teaching, researching, and writing about the topic. I have been eager to understand the role...

    • 16 Teaching Space: What, How, and When
      (pp. 323-334)
      Nora S. Newcombe

      Space in Mindis a wonderful title for a book, with many implications and connotations. Then, once we have savored the title, we get to the subtitle,Concepts for Spatial Learning and Education. This phrase strikes a more concrete and practical note. In fact, it delineates the central challenge for those of us who believe that spatial learning is exciting and that spatial education is an essential foundation for effective participation in modern technological society. What exactly are we advocating; what are we trying to teach? If we can answer this question, we can go on to consider further practical...

  9. List of Contributors
    (pp. 335-336)
  10. Index
    (pp. 337-342)